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8 Aussie Weekend Getaways That Don’t Involve The Beach

8 Aussie Weekend Getaways That Don’t Involve The Beach

Ask anyone outside Australia to describe Australia, and you’ll probably get a few keywords.

Somewhere in the mix — after koalas and kangaroos but usually before Cate Blanchett — you’ll hear ‘beaches’. And yes, we’re lucky to have a lot of those. If the crowds flocking coastward every summer are any indication, our national pastime is alive and well.

But, as the travel-savvy among us know, there’s more to life than sea and sand. In fact, Australia excels at summer in many non-beachy ways. Whether it’s untouched mountain ranges, underrated wine country or music festival-adjacent attractions, there’s a wealth of weekend getaways to sample. Even typical winter destinations have a new vibrancy in summer, with the great outdoors replacing snug nights by the fire. (Not to mention those off-season prices.)

While this list of getaways skips around the whole country, each pick is accessible from a major city, so you can maximise your holiday mode. Dive in below for eight irresistible alternatives to a weekend at the beach, along with accommodation recommendations from Wotif’s resident travel expert Chris Milligan.

Peel Wine Region, Western Australia

All around the world, people buy wines from Western Australia’s major players from Swan Valley and Margaret River.

However, there’s another wine region deserving of your weekender coin — and it’s just an hour’s drive from Perth. In addition to its abundant natural beauty, the Peel region is home to various emerging wine producers operating welcoming cellar doors.

Thanks to its sea breezes, Peel and the nearby city of Mandurah enjoy slightly cooler summer temperatures than other areas of WA, so you can eat and drink in relative comfort. Whether you’re into bold Shiraz, craft beer (try Three Rivers and White Lakes Brewing), swimming with dolphins or walking off your last meal in a national park, Peel has you sorted.

Wotif’s where to stay: The Sebel Mandurah, which comes with trimmings like rainfall showers and a swish swimming pool.

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Falls Festival Marion Bay and surrounds, Tasmania

By now, New Year’s Eve campout Falls Festival needs no introduction. You should, however, get better acquainted with its longtime second home in Tassie.

The festival goes down from December 29 to 31 at a picturesque site in Bream Creek, where you can enjoy striking views and wide-open skies along with your Halsey, Vampire Weekend and Disclosure. This is the more chilled, back-to-nature Falls, but it’s still a three-day marathon, so you’re going to want to roll straight into a proper weekender.

Want to stick around longer? You’ll find a lot of small-town charm in neighbouring areas, or the truly intrepid can drive to nearby Triabunna for the ferry to Maria Island National Park. And mainlanders will find that Hobart is full of incredible culture, from art at MONA to fine dining at Franklin.

Wotif’s where to stay: The Grand Chancellor, a 4.5 star hotel right in the heart of Hobart.

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Darwin, Northern Territory

If you haven’t already done a Darwin weekender, you might have some preconceptions about the Top End capital. However, the tropical hotspot has charms you should consider — particularly in summer.

True, things can get pretty wild up north during the wet season, so you have to be okay with humidity and rain. On the plus side, there are fewer tourists, hotels are cheaper, the lightning storms can be thrilling and the sunsets are spectacular. Darwin is also an underrated foodie destination. A weekend stay facilitates a crash course in the city’s strong Southeast Asian influence, as evidenced by the popular Darwin International Laksa Festival.

Wotif’s where to stay: Mantra on the Esplanade, which is close to the buzzing Darwin waterfront.

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Gippsland, Victoria

The first thing you should know about Gippsland is its vast size. Stretching to Victoria’s border with New South Wales, it boasts incredible bushwalks, superior koala-spotting on Raymond Island (if that’s your thing) and many open vistas to soothe your everyday worries.

But there’s another, just as important reason to get to Gippsland in summer: the wine. The area deals in Chardonnay and pinot noir, with celebrated small-scale producers like South Gippsland’s Dirty Three Wines and, 90 minutes away in West Gippsland, Cannibal Creek Winery.

Wotif’s where to stay: The RAVC Inverloch Resort, which is close by the Bunurong Marine National Park.

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Rawnsley Park Station, South Australia

Looking for a weekender with a bit of adventure but also, you know, working toilets? The very good-looking Rawnsley Park Station opens up onto South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, so you’ll wake up that first morning to a postcard-worthy view.

This property offers a range of sleeping options, from a no-frills caravan park to a luxury eco-villa, but most visitors will do fine with a reasonably-priced holiday unit. Summer can be searing in the Flinders Ranges, so you can explore early, then head for a leisurely day at the pool. Of all the trips on this list, this one requires the most driving, but it’s worth the long haul.

Wotif’s where to stay: Rawnsley Park Station, which a resounding 92 percent of Wotif guests recommend.

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Kiama, New South Wales

Strictly speaking Kiama *does* have beaches, but the real drawcard here is the blowholes. The coastal town, a comfortable two-hour drive from Sydney, boasts a famous, tourist-drawing blowhole and the less obvious ‘Little Blowhole’ for the true aficionados.

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The area perfectly suits a lazy weekender, with a selection of cosy cafes and not-in-Sydney-anymore vibes, whether you’re sticking in Kiama or driving to nearby towns like Gerringong. With a bit of preplanning, you can also line up accommodation at a very good price.

Wotif’s where to stay: The Sebel Harbourside, which is within a 15-minute drive of the Kiama Blowhole.

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Glass House Mountains, Queensland

At the peak of summer, you’ll feel very savvy escaping the crowds at Queensland’s beaches. And where better to target than the Glass House Mountains? Just an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, the area is renowned for its epic views and vigorous walking trails.

But you don’t have to spend a weekend here getting rugged. The small townships dotted around the hinterland are home to more earthbound attractions, including stress-reducing ecolodges and unfussy cafes. You’ll also be close to the sprawling Australia Zoo, run by the Irwin family in memory of Steve Irwin.  

Wotif’s where to stay: Glass on Glasshouse, a 4.5 star property just 10 minutes drive from the Glass House Mountains.

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Daylesford and Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Conveniently within road-tripping distance of Melbourne, Daylesford really turns on the charm in summer.

Hopping between mineral springs, nature reserves and homely pubs, you’ll strongly consider calling in sick on Monday. You can also trade your sad end-of-weekend trudge to Coles for the Daylesford Sunday Market, or pick up some enhanced apple juice at the charming Daylesford Cider Company cellar door.

Wotif’s where to stay: Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel, which is within a 10 minute stroll of the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa and Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.

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Image: Armando Castillejos / Unsplash

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